Good sleepers ‘less likely to have a stroke or heart disease’, study finds

·2-min read

Strokes and heart disease could be prevented if people got a good night’s sleep, a new study suggests.

The research - which tracked 7,200 men and women over the course of a decade - found just 10% of people typically sleep for seven to eight hours a night.

But it found that people who sleep well are less likely to suffer heart disease and strokes, while sleeping poorly can heighten the risk by 74%.

Study author Dr Aboubakari Nambiema of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris said the finding that just 10% of people are sleeping well “was expected given our busy, 24/7 lives”.

“The importance of sleep quality and quantity for heart health should be taught early in life when healthy behaviours become established,” he added.

“Minimising night-time noise and stress at work can both help improve sleep.”

Researchers studied 7,200 French men and women aged between 50 to 75, over the course of a decade.

At the start of the study, between 2008 and 2011, researchers collected various health information from participants, including their sleep habits.

They were they tracked by researchers for up to 10 years to see if they went on to develop heart disease or have a stroke.

At the start of the study 10% of participants had an “optimal” sleep score, meaning they slept seven to eight hours a night; they did not have insomnia; they had no excessive day time sleepiness and no sleep apnoea.

After an average follow-up period of eight years, 275 people developed coronary heart disease or had a stroke.

Those who slept “optimally” were found to have a 74% lower risk of heart disease or stroke compared with those with the lowest sleep scores, according to a new study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Barcelona.

In the UK, more than 100,000 are thought to die every year as a result of heart disease and strokes.

Dr Nambiema added: “Our study illustrates the potential for sleeping well to preserve heart health and suggests that improving sleep is linked with lower risks of coronary heart disease and stroke.

“We also found that the vast majority of people have sleep difficulties.

“Given that cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death worldwide, greater awareness is needed on the importance of good sleep for maintaining a healthy heart.”